General Cycling and Mountain Biking

Key to cycling codes of conduct are to keep safe, and to be courteous and respectful to the environment and others.  Cyclists should respect wildlife, habitats and historic structures that they come across, by not harming, removing or alarming them.


Whenever you are cycling, it is important to consider the following the 3 general guidelines below:

1.  Keep it legal.  Ensure that you are following a route on roads, tracks and trails that you are allowed to cycle on.  Note that in the UK you can cycle on bridleways but not on footpaths.

2.  Leave no trace.  Take home your litter, and other peoples if it is safe to do so. Do not cause damage to habitats, historic structures or other physical structures that you come across.  Stay on the track, lane, or trail to avoid damaging habitats along the way.

3.  Be considerate to other outdoor users, people working outdoors and wildlife. Always give way.  Pass slow and wide and anticipate other people and wildlife particularly on bends.  In the UK cyclists must give way to walkers and horse riders.  Keep a reasonable distance from wildlife and also farm animals so that you do not disturb them or cause them distress.

Mountain biking is popular in many European countries – great fun, and a great way to experience the great outdoors.  The routes used will more often than not pass through stunning and yet fragile habitats and landscapes.  It is particularly important therefore that mountain bikers ride responsibly to take care of the environment.

The International Mountain Biking Association (UK) has published ‘Trail Essentials’ to help you to ride responsibly and the key points are listed below. For more information, click HERE to go to their website.

1.  Keep it legal
Check your National laws which list where you can mountain bike in your country. In the UK, you can ride on bridleways, byways and restricted byways. On Forestry Commission land you can ride on forest roads, except in the New Forest, where you need to follow local guidance. You can also ride any single-track which is promoted for mountain bikes. You can use some canal towpaths: check out the Waterscape website. You can also ride on designated cycle routes. Scotland has it’s own access legislation, and you can ride in most locations providing you do so responsibly. Check the Scottish Outdoor Access Code by clicking HERE to see what this means for you.

2.  Leave No Trace
Think about how you ride and the impact this has on the trail. Practice to improve your skill at low-impact cycling. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage. So adjust your riding, and consider using alternative trails where appropriate. Keep to existing trails; avoid widening the trail, or creating new lines. Always take your litter home with you. And other peoples’ too if you can – inner tubes and cycle litter reflect badly on all riders.

3.  Control Your Bike
Stay focussed; even a second’s inattention can cause problems for you and other trail users. Check your speed. Ride responsibly, and think about when the conditions are right for riding fast. This awareness will avoid incidents with others. Be realistic about your riding ability. The trail grading colour codes used in some countries will give you an idea of what to expect from each trail.

4.  Always Give Way
Let your fellow trail users know you’re coming. Pass slow and wide, slowing to a walking pace or stopping if necessary. This is particularly important when approaching or passing horse-riders. When approaching corners or at blind spots, anticipate other trail users.

5.  Avoid Disturbing Animals
Animals can be startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. This can upset dogs, startle horses, scatter cattle and sheep, or disturb wildlife. Be aware of your potential impact on animals, and take care to avoid disturbing them.

6.  Always Plan Ahead
Know your bike, your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are going to ride, and prepare accordingly. Be self-sufficient. Keep your equipment in good order, and carry necessary supplies for trailside repairs, and any changes in the weather or other conditions. Wear the appropriate safety gear for the trails you are riding.